58 more Omicron cases identified, bringing total to 122

PETALING JAYA: A total of 58 new Covid-19 positive cases were confirmed to be of the Omicron variant after whole genome sequencing (WGS) was conducted by the Institute for Medical Research (IMR), says the Health Ministry.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said that out of these 58 cases, a total of 54 cases were imported while four cases were transmitted locally.

“Out of the 54 cases of imported infections, 39 cases were from Saudi Arabia, seven from the United Arab Emirates, four from the United Kingdom, two from Nigeria, one each from Kazakhstan and France.

“Meanwhile, the four cases of local transmission were believed to have been infected by a pilgrim who tested positive,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Khairy added that WGS of samples showing possible Omicron variants is still under way, and the Health Ministry will provide updates regarding the validation of Omicron variants from time to time.

“With these latest results, the cumulative number of Covid-19 cases featuring Omicron variants in Malaysia is 122 cases.

“Of this total, 117 cases were imported, while another five cases were local infections.

“Of the total Omicron variant cases reported, 71 cases (58.2%) were umrah pilgrims.

“The results of PCR genotyping assay conducted by IMR on 1,774 Covid-19 positive cases among travellers arriving in Malaysia from Dec 1 to 31 last year found that 1,220 (68.8%) samples showed a possible (presumptive) Omicron variant.

“Of these 1,220 presumptive variants of Omicron, 928 (76.1%) involved a sample of travellers arriving from Saudi Arabia,” he said.

Khairy said the four cases of the Covid-19 Omicron variant from local transmissions were reported in Kedah yesterday.

“All four cases are close contacts to positive cases of Covid-19 Omicron variant who returned from performing their umrah in Saudi Arabia on Dec 12, 2021, and who were confirmed positive for the Omicron variant on Dec 24.

“Exposure to this case occurred on Dec 13, 2021 and all of them started to show Category 2 symptoms on Dec 17.

“The Covid-19 RT-PCR test was further conducted on Dec 19, and the patients tested positive with a Ct value between 20.80 and 21.49.

“They were treated for 14 days at Hospital Sultan Abdul Halim in Sungai Petani, Kedah,” he said.

The “Ct value” or cycle threshold refers to the number of cycles after which the virus can be detected.

Khairy urged the public who are directed to undergo mandatory quarantine at the residence or home to continue to comply with such instructions, remain in a separate room and not meet with other family members or individuals.

“Failure to comply with these instructions will result in the transmission of Covid-19, including Omicron, to family members and the community.

“The Health Ministry recommends individuals who are eligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccine to obtain a booster dose to achieve the optimal level of protection and prevent severe Covid-19 infection and its complications,” he said.